Returning last year with their second album Every Now and Then Jagwar Ma, cemented their sound in psychoactive synths and Madchester driven hooks. The Sydney based band are less cemented in location however – in the past three years they have been on tour with The xx, Foals and fellow Aussies Tame Impala while also building studios in their hometown, London and rural France. We caught up with the flitting trio backstage at The Leadmill in Sheffield before their headline slot for Outlines festival 2017.
Seemingly unfazed for their first festival headline slot: Frontman and vocalist Gabriel Winterfield, Synth master and producer Jono Ma and bassist Jack Freeman all seemed utterly relaxed, with Jono Ma snoozing – out cold from jetlag. “It’s important to us” explained Winterfield about the Outlines gig “because the first show we ever played in the UK was in Sheffield.” This statement was later restated to the eager Leadmill crowd. Despite their confidence, the band are perceptibly humble and appreciative of the opportunity.
Mid UK tour – the trio had just arrived from Lancaster where they played to a crowd in the city’s library, a vast difference to the packed Leadmill venue. “It reminded us of being in high school – with all the computers. I walked on stage with an Adele book.” Perhaps not the showiest venue in the UK but the library has played host to rising mega-stars such as Adele herself, which Winterfield seemed eager to point out.
Back to the performance on hand however, their set at The Leadmill was a strobe-fuelled psychedelic performance with Madchester vibes infiltrating the venue floor. New material such as ‘O B 1’ and ‘Give Me a reason’ especially seemed strong, binding together effortless courtesy of Ma’s slick production. ‘Slipping’ was also a highlight of the set which Freeman said was “vibey and unlike any song we’ve previously put in our set” and a favourite to play live. Choosing to play multiple shows over here and slots such as this, it is clear Jagwar Ma do have an affinity with the UK but they explained how there are pros and cons both here and in sunny Sydney.
“People up North (in the UK) are very physical, and they sing a lot too,” said Winterfield. But “the weather is so dreary, people in Austrailia are more laid-back, they drink because they want to rather than they because they have to” he jokes.
Fervently trying to reconcile for dissing the UK, bassist Freeman stated that “it’s just not in the sub-tropical part of the Pacific Ocean, it’s not the UK’s fault.” In continued desperation to prove they truly do love the UK, they explained how Australia is “in the shitter” politically compared to the UK. As despite there being one of the biggest LGBT+ movements in the world down under, same sex marriage is not ‘recognised’ by their government. “Sydney’s just a good-looking person cashing in on their appearance,” says Winterfield.
Okay we get it you were joking, but it is true we drink because we have to – it’s common knowledge here, it’s our way of life.
Jagwar are playing a string of UK and European shows before festival season where they are on the bill for Live at Leeds, Parklife and Festival number 6 in Portmeirion. Check out full tour dates here.